Limited Choices: How the School Choice Paradigm Subverts Equal Education for Students with Disabilities
47 Pages Posted: 21 May 2018 Last revised: 7 Oct 2018
Date Written: May 10, 2018
While there is no absolute right to education in the Constitution of the United States, legislation and litigation have created and elucidated specific rights of children to, at a minimum, equal opportunity in education. For students with disabilities, the right to equality in educational opportunity can be found in both federal statutes and under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Rapidly developing education policy currently promotes increasing options for parents to use federal and state funds to send their children to schools other than their neighborhood public schools (“school choice”). However, the specific rights of students with disabilities have been largely overlooked. This article explains the ways in which school-choice laws and the rights of students with disabilities overlap and interact, exposes gaps that leave students with disabilities vulnerable, and suggests actions that legislators and litigators can take to mitigate that vulnerability and ensure equal opportunity in education.
Keywords: school choice, voucher, charter school, IDEA, disability, law, equal protection
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